Over the next two weeks we will be marking Easter and St. Patrick’s Day by doing various activities with the children, but this year I wanted to also teach them about a celebration they’ve never heard of before. We will be looking at the Persian New Year celebration of Nowruz as many people around the world mark the occasion on the 20th or 21st March.
I hadn’t heard of Nowruz myself until last weekend when my sister said she had been invited to celebrate with an Iranian friend. Then the following day an email popped up in my inbox linking to Nowruz activities for children. It must have been a sign that we were to learn about it!
Originally I wanted to create our own Haft-Sin table but I quickly realised that doing so would require a lot more time and dedication than I have before weekend so I took to the internet to help with resources instead.
What is Nowruz?
For anyone who, like me, hadn’t heard of this holiday, here is a short explanatory video.
One thing that isn’t mentioned in the video is that on the Tuesday before Nowruz begins, people jump over a small fire. The idea behind this is that you leave any badness within you with the fire and take away it’s energy, warmth and goodness.
Based on this, the boys and I will do some bonfire paintings. We might even jump over them I suppose but I won’t be starting any actual fires!
For Nowruz itself, people begin by exchanging gifts at the Haft-Sin table which is filled with various things that begin with ‘S’…
First a special cloth (the sofreh) is spread on the table, then seven traditional items are placed carefully. Each of the seven items begins with the Persian letter Sin.
- Sabzeh – wheat, barley, mung bean or lentil sprouts growing in a dish to symbolise abundance
- Samanu – a sweet pudding which symbolises affluence
- Senjed – the dried fruit of the oleaster tree, symbolising love
- Seer – garlic, for protection against illness
- Seeb – apple, for health and beauty
- Somāq – sumac fruit, for sunrise, a new dawn
- Serkeh – vinegar, for old-age and patience
In addition to the seven items beginning with sin it is also common to find goldfish in a bowl as well as a candle on the table for each child in the family on either side of a mirror.
For this, I have found a great cut and stick activity sheet from Activity Village.
In a similar tradition to our Easter one, children also decorate eggs so our egg decorating activities will serve a dual purpose this year!
For talking to the boys about the whole festival of Nowruz and giving them an insight into what it’s like to celebrate the holiday, I found a great resource on the British Council website which gives them ample information on the celebration.
I’m really looking forward to teaching the boys about a new holiday from another part of the world and I’m sure I’ll be able to report back and show you what fun we had learning about it!